Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘happiness’ Category

One morning I was on my way to the computer to write my first column since vacation when I heard my husband singing in the shower. I sat quietly in the hall, sipped my coffee, and listened. He’d sing, then he’d whistle some of the melody, and then he’d sing a few more lines. It was pretty wonderful. He has a nice voice. But what brought a smile to my heart was how happy and content he was.

As I went to get myself that second cup of coffee, I glanced at our bookcases, which I had dusted and straightened the day before. Then I moseyed into the closet to admire my organizational and cleaning abilities.

By the time I clicked on the computer and the little cursor was jumping in front of me, I had changed my idea for the column. “I’ll write on anger another time,” I thought. “Today I’ll write on pausing, pausing to note the little things in life that so often get brushed over and rushed by.”

One wall of my office is cork board. It is convenient for hanging story ideas, school calendars, jokes, funny and philosophical cards people have sent me, and family pictures I can’t bear to put away.

In one section on the wall I have all of my daughter’s school pictures. I love to look at the way she has changed and grown from year to year. First there are the big smiles of pre-kindergarten and early grade school. Then there are the years of shyness and tentativeness in front of the camera. And then a more mature face and a big friendly smile.

Looking around this room, there are so many pleasures. My coffee mug made by a St. Louis potter. The shape, the feel, the coloring, the handle – it’s so right. I’ve been drinking coffee from it for years.

One of my favorite cards on the wall shows a large green and orange fish swimming in the water. A white rabbit dressed in a purple dress is hanging for dear life on the back of the fish. Above the picture is written, “Life can be a slippery fish.” How often that picture has helped me put things in perspective.

I have a globe on a stand in my office. It was a gift from a dear friend. Years ago the two of us were shopping in a stationery store when we came across some globes. I shared with her that when I was in grade school I would have given anything to own a globe. That Christmas my attentive friend surprised me with one. I like to spin it. I like the feel of it. Last week I used it to check out the spelling of Caribbean.

There’s an electric pencil sharpener on my desk. When I use it I become a little girl fascinated at how it can sharpen a pencil.

A handmade doll sits on one of the chairs. Her name is Emily. My friend Jeanine made her for me. Emily has on a blue and white dress with tiny white buttons. I never had a doll when I was a little girl. Maybe that’s why Emily has won such a place in my heart.

Hanging on the wall is a list of things I wanted to accomplish this past year. Unlike other years when I have checked off only half my list, this year I’ve already checked almost every item. Perhaps I was kinder to myself when I made out the list the first week in January. I didn’t give myself so many tasks to accomplish.

Other items in my office have special meaning for me: A carved bird, a small statue of a little girl, photos of flowers, a picture of one son in his football jersey, another son in his bathing suit.

Pause for a few minutes today. Listen. Look. Take note. Appreciate.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Dear Beth and Mat,

Happy Wedding Day! Since within a few hours the two of you will be taking your wedding vows, I decided that a little counsel might be in order. As you know, through my work I’ve watched a lot of happy couples interact with each other and I’ve worked with a lot of couples struggling to make their marriages better. Each couple has taught me a lesson about marriage. Here’s some of what I’ve learned.

No two people are alike. Now you’ve probably heard that before. But sometimes when we hear something so often, we forget the essence. What this means is that the two of you will sometimes see some things differently. Beth, you may want to use your extra money to buy furniture. Mat, you may want to use it to go on vacation. One of you may want to get up early and get going while the other wants to sleep late and enjoy a quiet morning. One of you may be a talker and an analyzer, but the other may be more quiet. One of you may be acutely aware of your feelings. The other may not be aware of them at all. Remember, neither of you is right or wrong. You are simply different. Some differen­ces are genetic. Some you learned from your families as you were growing up. These differ­ences make each of you unique. Be aware of them, smile and laugh about them, work to accept them.

Be generous with your praise. Right now you are probably telling each other how attractive you are. The two of you are exchanging a lot of hugs and smiles and “I love yous.” These compliments helped you fall in love. If you give them daily, they will keep you in love.

Be cautious with your criticism. Married people sometimes begin to think they have a right to critique their partner or to make helpful suggestions. Keep it to one criticism every two weeks and your partner will feel safe and want to be in your presence.

Know your own flaws and correct them so they don’t interfere with your marriage. If you are always late, decide from now on to be on time. If you get too mad, work on your temper.

Listen. Listen. Listen to your partner talk without interrupting. Listen to his or her feelings. Listen when he’s happy, when she’s disappointed, when he’s scared.

Enjoy love making. Accept your partner’s approach and approach your partner. Have fun and be generous in bed.

If you step on your partner’s feelings, say you’re sorry. Recognize that you have erred. Remember, it’s easier to love someone who admits mistakes.

Play together. Continue to develop interests…back-packing, dancing, cards, tennis. Develop a group of friends that will bring additional energy to your marriage.

Be respectful. In marriage there is no room for screaming, or name calling, or refusing to talk, or threatening divorce.

Keep in touch with your families. Let them be of comfort to you and share your joys and sadnesses. But, remember, each of you now should come first with the other.

Both of you are very much in love today. Choose to live in such a way that your love will last forever.

YOUR FRIEND,

DORIS

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

Read Full Post »

She’s been married twice. Now she’s thinking about tying the knot a third time and she wants to know, “How can I tell if he’s Mr. Right? This time I want to be sure I can live happily ever after with him.”

Although there are no absolutes or guarantees to happiness, there are some very specific questions you should answer to help you see beyond that wonderful rush of feelings you get when falling in love.

One thing to assess is what kind of past this person has. If he admits to wild drinking or gambling, wait a few years before saying “I do.” Time will help you determine if he has cleaned up his behavior.

What kind of job history does he have? His eyes may be a gorgeous blue, but you’ll get very tired of looking at him if he isn’t a steady worker.

If he has been married before, why did his marriage break up? Was the breakup caused by cheating on his wife? Was it because he worked sixty hours a week and only focused on his career? People do change, but you’ll want to see the evidence.

Where does this man put the blame for the break up of former relationships? If he sees his former wife or girlfriend as the culprit and shows no awareness of his contributions to their unhappiness, taking responsibility for his mistakes will be difficult for him.

If he has children, look hard at how he relates to them and to their mother. Does he put their needs before his some of the time? Does he put you before his children on occasion? Do his wants come first some of the time? If you answered yes to all three of these questions, chances are he’s able to do a nice balancing act.

How does he handle his anger? If you have watched him fly into a rage behind the wheel or at a restaurant, at some point you, too, will be the target of his anger. Better pass up matrimony until he gets counseling and has his anger under control.

What do you have in common? Does he like to bicycle? Dance? Go to plays? Play board games? Go to movies?

What do you think of his friends? If most of them tend to be obnoxious or boring, look at him again. Is he a bit obnoxious or boring? If he has very few friends, think through why this is so. Maybe he isn’t willing to put out energy for people. If this is the case, it’s predictable that he won’t be putting out a lot of energy for you.

You’ll also want to have a good idea of how he handles money. Is he in debt? Does he overspend? Does he have savings? What financial assets and liabilities will he bring to the marriage? What are each of your expectations about how the money should be handled?

When it comes to paying the bill at a restaurant, do you squirm because you think he’s a bit cheap? If he’s a small tipper or expects you to always split the tab, money will become an issue in your future.

He may be very complimentary to you, but how does he treat his parents, his brothers and sisters, his co-workers? Does he praise or criticize? You don’t want someone who is stingy with compliments and generous with criticisms.

Don’t overlook personal habits. Does he have good manners? Does he pick up his clothes? How does his home look? Is he well groomed?

Name at least ten characteristics that other people would use to describe him.

List his two worst faults. Assuming that he will never change, can you live with these two faults?

If you answer these questions honestly, you’ll know if he’s Mr. Right.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

Read Full Post »

I met a woman at a bridal shower once, and she said she used to read my column and watch me on television. Then she said that the one thing she regrets in her life…that she didn’t go back to work after her children were raised. After all, she had a college degree, she said.

I said, “Go back to work now.”

She laughed and said that she was in her seventies and it was too late.

She then said that a regret her husband had is that he didn’t go to medical school. He was offered a scholarship but opted to sell suits at a local department store for nine dollars a week.

Another woman said that she regrets not going back to school and finishing her education. When she was in her thirties she regretted this; when she was in her forties she regretted it; and now she is in her mid-sixties and she still regrets it.

Then this woman asked me if I had any regrets. I said that actually I had been thinking about this very thing recently, and one thing I regret is that I have baked about 2000 pies since I’ve been married. Everyone laughed when they heard my regret, but I think of all the cholesterol and sugar I have consumed and all the time I could have spent reading novels and being with my children.

Another regret I have thought of since is that I yelled too much at our first child when he forgot his lunch, which was almost daily.

I’d be driving him and his brother to school when he would inform me that he had forgotten his lunch. Since the school didn’t have a cafeteria, I was always faced with deciding whether to go back home for his lunch and be late for work, or take him to school and hope that a hungry stomach would teach him to be more responsible.

Thinking back, I could have gotten around this whole ugly scene, in which I would lecture, he would feel miserable, and then I’d feel guilty. I could have taken it upon myself to bring his lunch. I could have found other ways to teach responsibility besides insisting that he remember his lunch bag.

My daughter forgot her lunch once too. I asked her what she was going to do. She assured me that one of her friends would share her lunch. I said that was nice.

I drove away from her school with no regrets.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

Read Full Post »

Up to increasing your ethical capital? How about playing a game? Everyone who plays wins! Can’t beat those odds.

You can play the game by yourself, with family, with colleagues at work or with
your students in the classroom. Expect some laughter as well as some comments
such as, “Do you think so?” Or, “No way! I can’t see it.”

The only rule: No getting irritated or stomping away as a few sensitive people have been known to do.

The game you’ll be playing is called: “HORSE or PIG or FISH?”

If playing alone, think about your face, focusing primarily on the shape of your nose. Does your nose resemble a pig, a fish or a horse? If you can’t decide check it out the next time you’re in front of a mirror. Think about your family. Take a look at the other folks at your job. I myself am a horse and my husband is a fish. We have three kids: A fish, a horse and a pig. (By the way, this has nothing to do with how she has kept her room.)

What I’ve seen when playing “HORSE or PIG or FISH?” is that a good many people get caught up in not wanting to be labeled a pig. Some are not so keen on being labeled a horse or a fish. We all have our biases.

Think: Did you put a negative spin on one of the three labels? Many do. If so, you took a bit of diversity and dubbed it undesirable. That’s how prejudice starts.

We look at something and instead of thinking neutral thoughts we lean toward making a negative judgment if it’s not aligned with our view of the world. This is how the human brain is wired. We’re genetically conditioned to think negative first when something doesn’t support or confirm how we think things should be.

The following experiment is an eye-opener guaranteed to help both adults and children move from one view of being critical to a second view of neutrality. Or even having a complete turn-around involving admiration.

If you put a baby on the floor and you lie next to the baby, trying to do everything the baby does, moving your arms and legs and head as much as the baby for a period of fifteen minutes, guess what? You can’t keep up with the baby. No matter how many times you work out each week or how many miles you can bike or how much weight you can lift. You run out of energy and become exhausted way before the baby does. In that way, the baby is superior to you.

Think of a street person. Isn’t she superior to you in how she braves the elements and demands little in life? How about the kid who whizzes by you on a skateboard? (I tried my kid’s skateboard years ago and about broke my neck.) How would you fair?

What about the guy who works in the hot sun putting on roofs? Or the gal who has fancy flowers and trees tattooed all over her right arm? You might not want a sleeve yourself, and you can’t figure out why someone else would want one, but would you have the courage to endure the pain that it takes to be tattooed with such elaborate artwork?

Each time you see someone that is unlike you or chooses to live life differently from you, remind yourself of the following: “Each person is in some way my superior, and in that I can learn from him.” So look around and see how each person – man, woman, and child – is superior. The more you’re able to operate from this mind-set, the greater your ethical capital.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com.com

Read Full Post »

All my life I have been a dog person. My first recollection of having a dog was when I was a small child. The dog’s name was Bum. He came by that name honestly because he was always on the run. He would jump the fence and away he would go. The only other thing I remember about that dog was that my mom loved him dearly. So I did too. Following Bum, my family had a succession of dogs…Candy, Lady, Boots.

When I was 5 or 6 years old, a stray cat appeared at the door. It was winter, so my parents broke down and took him in. He managed to outstay his welcome in less that 48 hours. I still remember my mom saying, “I hate cats. They are everywhere. They get in your pots and pans. They get on the kitchen table. Out with the cat.” My mom hated cats. So I did too.

When I grew up and had my own family, we got a dog, Fluffy. Then we got Barker. Across town my parents also had two dogs and my sister had two dogs. You might say we were confirmed dog lovers.

Then something happened. Our daughter requested a cat. She was a mere three years old. “Now how could a little girl who is surrounded by dogs and dog lovers want a cat?” I thought. Every birthday and holiday thereafter she pressed for a cat. Every birthday and holiday I resisted until one day my love for my daughter overcame me and I said, “Oh alright. We’ll get a cat.”

That was some years ago. We then got two cats, Cornbread and Emily. When I walked in the door, Cornbread was there waiting. Then along would come Emily for some attention. I loved to watch them play. Cornbread swished his tail back and forth, back and forth, while Emily tried to catch it. They would also chase each other around the house at breakneck speed. As I watched them, I frequently would feel a smile on my face. You might say, I fell in love with cats.

Which leads me to a question I’m often asked. Can people really change?
The answer – YES.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

Read Full Post »

One mother confessed that when she looks at her overweight daughter, she sees her as a failure. And then she translates her daughter’s failure into her own failure.

“I try to hide my disappointment and discontent with the way she looks,” said the mother, “but it’s always there. I make subtle comments, which really aren’t so subtle. In the past I’ve said, “I heard about a great diet book. Should I buy it for you? “I’ve also said, ‘It’s a great day; let’s go for a walk.’ What I’m really saying is, “You need some exercise.’ The worst comment was when I said, “‘Why, you have a double chin just like me.’ “When I look at her, I think she’s lazy. She has no pride. I wonder where I went wrong.”

Another woman confided that it makes her sick to watch her daughter eat. “I want to say, ‘Stop eating that roll and butter. Don’t you have any respect for yourself?’ I don’t dare say anything because in the past I have and it just makes her mad and not want to be with me.” “I never stop bugging my daughter,” said one mom. “I’m always coming up with a plan. I take her articles and books on weight loss. Last year I enrolled her in a weight-loss program and she lost 50 pounds. Then she gained it all back. My next plan was humiliation. I told her I loved her, but the world hated fat people. This month I’ve offered to pay for her to enroll at a gym. Does all this do her any good? It doesn’t seem to help her, but it helps me feel as though I’m doing something.”

“My daughter is 70 pounds overweight and seems to be on her way up,” moaned another mom. “She eats all the time. Her room is full of candy wrappers. I’m thin, and I just don’t get it. Nothing I say to her has an impact. She’s sweet and a successful high school student. She plays in the band and has lots of friends. I know she’s unhappy with her weight, but she can’t seem to get control of it.”

Yet another mother said, “The worst time for me is when I have to introduce my daughter, who is at least 90 pounds overweight, to someone she’s never met. I cringe. I think that the person must be thinking how ugly she is. I smile and am chatty and act like everything is fine, but on the inside I feel terrible and know it’s not fine. I feel bad for my daughter and bad for me.”

“What am I to do?”
If you are a mother having bad feelings about an overweight daughter, you know that your daughter also is struggling with feelings about her weight. The best course of action is to ask her directly, “Is there anything I can do to help you with your weight? Or would you rather I said nothing?”

Some daughters want their mothers to bring them diet programs and suggestions. This keeps the problem out in the open as opposed to pretending there isn’t a problem. Other daughters will ask that their mother not push food or tempt them with homemade cakes and cookies. Some don’t want their mothers to say anything about their weight problem. They already know they have one, and they’ve tried any number of diets and exercise programs.
If you truly want to be helpful to your overweight daughter, be a good model by following a healthy diet and exercise regimen yourself. Ask your daughter what she wants from you regarding her weight. And then have the strength and courage to give her what she asks for.

To take care of your own feelings about her weight, confide in one of your close friends from time to time. And then perhaps become a bit philosophical and ask yourself, “Why did I bring this child into the world?” I bet your answer has nothing to do with her weight.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” and “Thin Becomes You”. Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: